When DISSUADE becomes PERSUADE
Thanks to mi friend Gustavo Faverón, I discovered a written text (actually, two) where disuadir (to dissuade) is used as if it were persuadir (to persuade):
"¿Cómo es posible que siglos de escritura no hayan disuadido a algunos de publicar sólo lo realmente necesario o imprescindible?", se pregunta el narrador de “Fértil sequía”, relato del último libro, El sentido de los límites, de Carlos Schwalb Tola. Cuestionamiento válido, sin duda, pero que no parece haber sido del todo asimilado por el autor.I had heard this neutralization, but this is the first time I have seen it in writing. It is very interesting. Take a look to the relevant part: "How it is possible that centuries of writing have not dissuaded some people from publishing only what is really necessary or indispensable?". The intention is to say that centuries of writing should have dissuaded people from publishing what is not necessary or indispensable. Somehow, the negation raises from the substantivized adjective (which we can translate as a free relative in English) to the matrix verb, with no semantic effects. This is more that unusual in standard Spanish, where the sentence, maintaining the negation in the matrix verb, should have been:
Olga Arellano in Correo Perú
(1) ¿Cómo es posible que siglos de escritura no hayan persuadido a algunos de publicar sólo lo realmente necesario o imprescindible?
How it is possible that centuries of writing have not persuaded some people from publishing only what is really necessary or indispensable?
So, somehow, to dissuade became to persuade. It is important to keep in mind that this is not just a typo. The sentence is a quotation from a literary work (so, the neutralization started there), and the journalist not only cites it, but she even comments on the relevant meaning (so, accepting the neutralization).
It is not really clear why this neutralization happens. Perhaps it is just an instance of negation raising, but with the exceptional characteristic that it happens from a phrase.
It is well known that negation raising has a peculiar behavior in Spanish and other languages. For instance, when we use the modal verb querer (want) with negation and a finite clause as complement:
(2) Yo no quiero que nadie sea arrestado
I NEG want that nobody be arrested
(2) can have different meanings:
i---There is nobody that I want to be arrested
ii---It is not the case that I want that nobody be arrested
iii---I want that nobody be arrested [spurious negation]
(iii) is interesting because it is like NO it is not there. The reading in (iii) becomes salient if we postpone nadie:
(3) Yo no quiero que sea arrestado nadie
I NEG want that be arrested nobody
And, more interesting, if we drop the negation, this is OK with the preverbal nadie but not with the postverbal nadie:
(4) Yo quiero que nadie sea arrestado
I want that nobody be arrested
(5) ?* Yo quiero que sea arrestado nadie
I want that be arrested nobody
But (5) improves with emphatic NADIE (which is, perhaps, right-dislocated):
(6) ? Yo quiero que sea arrestado NADIE
I want that be arrested NOBODY
Coming back to (1), we see that this is indeed a special context: there is negation, a subjunctive verb, and solo (only, a focalizer), and everything is embedded in a question with a modal expression---all of them very well known triggers of interesting effects. Perhaps it is a big conspiracy.